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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  LITERATURE  OF   RACE  AND   SOIL            431

resign his post. He settled for a time on the Lake of Starnberg,
but lectures he gave in 1934 at the University of Munich gave
offence, and in 1938 he was sent to the concentration camp at
Oranienberg, from which he was transferred to Buchenwald; five
months later he was released, but kept under observation by the
Gestapo and prevented from publishing anything; what he wrote
he buried in his garden in a tin box. After the war he lectured in
the United States, and then found a home in Uerikon near Zurich,
where he died. Wiechert's autobiography is contained in Wdlder
und Menschen (1936), the story of his boyhood, and in Jahre und
Zeiten (1949), which chronicles his life from his student days to
the time of his settling in Switzerland and deals with the impact
on him of the political turmoils of the day; Der Totenwald(1945-46)
records his experiences at Buchenwald. His first novel, Die flucht
(1916), has also autobiographical elements; the hero, a teacher,
flees from a loathsome world to the forests of Masuria and there
commits suicide. In Wiechert's early work there is the reflex of
his unhappy first marriage. There is the same conflict with the
world of today in the novels which follow: Der Wald (1922), Der
Totenwolf (1924), and in Die blauen Scbmngen (1925), which was
completed in the trenches  of Champagne. In Der Totenwolf
Christianity is specifically charged with life's misery, but this dis-
gust with the world changed to a certain acceptance of Christian
feeling. 'Ich war mer^ig* he says, (als der Durcbbrucb der Gnade fiber
micb kam und die alte 7orm sgrbracb. Er spulte den Hass binmg, in dem
ich aufgewachsen war? From now on there is a note of appeasement
in his tales; his characters face up to death and devilry, and healing
is found in shouldering the burdens life imposes; the lesson runs
that not God, but man, decides. Wiechert's task as a writer is now to
analyse the civilization of today and to find ethical principles which
will make it bearable. Injabre undZeiten (1949) Wiechert dismisses
the works of his first phase as self-centred and engendered by his
T&ilturpessimismus or nihilism of despair; he had written them to
free his mind from the stifling sense of frustration that had over-
come him in the satanized civilisation of the city. This finding of
grace which heralds his \mite Geburf is not, however, a Christian
conversion - he is still an agnostic, but he has found his way to a
Christian conception which is all his own. It is in effect a return
from the hectic and strident bustle and battle of the' city to the
peace of nature. There has been much discussion of Wiechert's